Anomalous intraslab structure revealed by the analysis of aftershocks of the Mw 6.7 Coquimbo-La Serena earthquake of 20 January 2019

Comte, D.; Farías, M.; Calle-Gardella, D.; Navarro-Aranguiz, A.; Roecker, S.; Rietbrock, A.


Seismograms of about 12,000 aftershocks of the Mw6.7 Coquimbo-La Serena earthquake of 20 January 2019 that were recorded during six months by an array of 33 short-period seismic stations are used to generate wavespeed images of the subduction wedge beneath the Chilean forearc between 28.0°-30.6°S. This part of the margin is near the northern terminus of the 2015 Mw8.4 Illapel earthquake and the southern terminus of the 1922 Mw8.5 Copiapo earthquake. The distribution of hypocenters and wavespeeds at the slab interface and within the subduction wedge, are like those determined by Comte et al. (2019) in the Illapel aftershock region, and we infer that the same processes of subduction erosion and re-accretion inferred by them are active here. Moreover, anomalous wavespeeds are found in the immediate vicinity of a dense cluster of aftershocks located in a well-defined double seismic zone, within the subducting Nazca plate. Vp/Vs ratios in the upper seismic zone are uniformly high (∼1.9), those in most of the lower seismic zone are average to low, and those in the intraslab region of the aftershock cluster are exceptionally low (∼1.6). These values suggest dehydration of the slab interior and hydration of the mantle near the slab interface. While the origin of this feature is enigmatic, its limited spatial extent suggests that it most likely is due to an inherited structure, such a seamount or petit-spot volcano, in the Nazca plate, rather than a feature that developed in situ. The high rate of activity coupled with the low wavespeeds suggests a region of local weakness that could eventually evolve into a tear or hole in the slab, and its location at the bounds of two megathrust earthquakes suggests that it plays a significant role in delimiting the rupture of such events.

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Título de la Revista: TECTONOPHYSICS
Volumen: 846
Editorial: Elsevier
Fecha de publicación: 2023
Idioma: Inglés
Financiamiento/Sponsor: ANID Projects AFB180004, AFB220002, PhD 21210526 and by NSF grant EAR-2021040.

Notas: WOS